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Solo - media reviews, may contain spoilers


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#1 glidrose

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 10:36 PM

Self-explanatory thread title.
 
List the publication, reviewer and tells us it was a positive, mixed or negative review.
 
The Guardian review by Robert McCrum is positive. "A brilliant imitation that's occasionally superior to Ian Fleming's prototype."  http://www.theguardi...es-bond-mission
 
The Standard review by David Sexton is negative. "A rather inattentive novel." "A pretty confusing resolution." "Lame outing."
 
The Bookseller review by Cathy Rentzenbrink is extremely positive. "An excellent and absorbing spy story."
 
The Daily Mail review by Geoffrey Wansell is positive. "Boyd brings back the real Bond, triumphantly."
 
The Telegraph review by Jon Stock is mixed-negative. "The book gets bogged down in an increasingly convoluted plot [though] there's much to enjoy."

The National (Abu Dhabi) review by Nick Leech is negative. "A pedantic, meandering narrative [...] and underwhelming finale." http://www.thenation...l-fails-to-stir

The Independent review by Boyd Tonkin is mostly positive. http://www.independe...yd-8841756.html

The Financial Times review by Ludovic Hunter-Tilney is positive. "Expertly plotted. The twists are genuinely surprising and the chief baddie (a disfigured Rhodesian mercenary who impales his victims on fish hooks) is suitably grotesque." http://www.ft.com/cm...l#axzz2g7wqFfYW
 
The Scotland Herald review by Hugh Macdonald is very positive. "Glorious [and] meticulously constructed." http://www.heraldsco...n-cape.22249511
 
David Robinson in the Scotsman approves of the book, though he hasn't really written a review per se. "William Boyd does a superb job." http://www.scotsman....novel-1-3115998 UPDATE: Robinson's actual Scotsman review: http://www.scotsman....-boyd-1-3118330 "One of the great strengths of the new James Bond novel is that his creator could never have written it."
 
The Express review by David Connett is negative. He gives the book 2 out of 5. "The promised feast fails to satisfy. It is far superior to the last effort to breathe life into a Bond novel by Jeffrey Deaver. Nevertheless it remains a lame affair. At its strongest when Bond is stumbling around Africa, this is anaemic stuff."
 
The GQ (UK) review by poet(!) and journalist Olivia Cole is positive. (Tho' she mistakenly writes "it's" for "its".) "A compulsively readable thriller. You are in for a thoroughly rewarding, entertaining and ultimately thought provoking fix." http://www.gq-magazi...ond-solo-review
 
The Sunday Times review by David Mills appears to be extremely positive. The review is behind a firewall. "A terrific twisting thriller." http://www.thesunday...dard-2013_09_30
 
The Nouse (University of York student newspaper) review by Emily Ross is mixed-negative. She likes the first half, but dislikes the over-complicated second half.  Ultimately she finds the novel "unsatisfying". http://www.nouse.co....the-names-boyd/

The other Guardian review, by Richard Williams, is mostly positive.

Edited by glidrose, 02 October 2013 - 09:47 PM.


#2 007jamesbond

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Posted 26 September 2013 - 05:02 PM

http://www.telegraph...oyd-review.html

 

not really positive 



#3 quantumofsolace

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Posted 26 September 2013 - 05:05 PM

http://www.dailymail...pping-best.html



#4 007jamesbond

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Posted 26 September 2013 - 05:08 PM

http://www.standard....ty-8840874.html

 

http://www.thebookse...o-reviewed.html



#5 glidrose

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Posted 26 September 2013 - 10:46 PM

Don't forget to identify the reviewer and say if it's positive, mixed or negative, or some combination thereof. I've updated my initial post with quotes from the Standard, Telegraph, Mail and Bookseller.



#6 007jamesbond

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Posted 28 September 2013 - 03:23 AM

http://www.ft.com/cm...l#axzz2g9bsQ6mk Financial Times

 

positive review 



#7 glidrose

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Posted 28 September 2013 - 06:01 PM

I already have that review listed above. For the record, I've been updating my initial post.

 

http://www.ft.com/cm...l#axzz2g9bsQ6mk Financial Times

 

positive review 



#8 quantumofsolace

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 10:25 PM

http://www.express.c...by-William-Boyd



#9 saint mark

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Posted 30 September 2013 - 12:20 PM

A not so positive sound.



#10 glidrose

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Posted 30 September 2013 - 05:00 PM

.


Edited by glidrose, 05 October 2013 - 05:31 PM.


#11 glidrose

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 05:32 PM

Not a review, but The New Statesmen claims the novel is set in 1695.

 

http://www.newstates...round-1-october



#12 Dustin

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 06:03 PM

Obviously a bit 'behind', are they?

#13 solace

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 07:02 PM

I haven't read the book yet but look forward to it. Many of the reviews I have read are good and the negative ones seem to focus on things which are are staples of the films, not the books. Not one aston Martin one reviewer said. The original Fleming books don't have any aston Martin's in them at all as far as I'm aware. Can't wait to read it.



#14 Major Tallon

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 07:39 PM

Bond drives an Aston-Martin in Goldfinger.



#15 solace

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 08:36 PM

Ah. I thought it was just the Bentley but then I've not read gf yet. Thanks for the info



#16 FOX MULDER

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 09:46 PM


David Robinson in the Scotsman approves of the book, though he hasn't really written a review per se. "William Boyd does a superb job." http://www.scotsman....novel-1-3115998 UPDATE: Robinson's actual Scotsman review: http://www.scotsman....-boyd-1-3118330 "One of the great strengths of the new James Bond novel is that his creator could never have written it."

 

Oh dear me. How trite. He's correct though, Fleming could never have written SOLO. He did, however, write at least half a dozen novels far superior to it.

 

(By the way, I've read SOLO and I quite liked it).



#17 Revelator

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 08:44 PM

A second review from the Guardian, this time by Richard Williams: http://www.theguardi...iam-boyd-review

 

It's positive and the reviewer is familiar with Fleming. Sample quotes:

 

With Fleming, God was in the details and nuances, and Boyd posts a respectable score, not least when he deploys a Flemingesque phrase such as "the creeping melancholy of hotel life" or echoes the short story "From a View to a Kill" while vividly summoning a memory of Bond's wartime experiences. [...] At his best, Fleming had a gift for the precise evocation of time, place and emotion. He would not have made the lazy assumption that commuters on Richmond station are universally "jaded", or begun two consecutive episodes, separated by a couple of pages, with the same bland phrase: "The next morning …" And did he not once state very precisely that the word "actually" was not a part of Bond's vocabulary? Boyd has him using it on page 142: "'I did, actually,' Bond said with a modest smile." And yet, all things considered, Boyd's attempt entertains far more than it exasperates.


#18 Dustin

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 08:55 PM

Thanks for sharing, Revelator. Had a chance to dig into SOLO yourself already?

#19 Revelator

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 08:58 PM

Not yet. Nowadays I tend to stay away from Bond continuation novels. In high school I read all of Gardner's efforts and grew to progressively dislike them. However, Boyd is a genuine fan of the books and the reviews seem encouraging, so I'll probably get around to Solo--though not before I reread Colonel Sun.



#20 Dustin

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 09:05 PM

Thanks for digging this out all the same. Please let us know your own verdict once you get to it.

#21 glidrose

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Posted 04 October 2013 - 08:10 PM

The Board software won't let me update my initial post so here are more reviews:
 
The Spectator review by Marcus Berkmann is generally positive, though he admits that he's never read Fleming's (or anybody else's) Bond novels. "There’s less to Solo than there is to most of Boyd’s work, but you can see that he writes with love and respect and more than a dash of wish-fulfillment." http://www.spectator...am-boyd-review/
 
The London Times review by Robert Crampton is negative. "I yield to few in my admiration for William Boyd, so I take no pleasure in reporting that he hasn't even come close to pulling this off." Crampton also decries the "lack of a proper villain" and believes that Boyd's "heart isn't in it."
 
The Sunday Times review by David Mills is positive. "[Boyd] has produced a terrific twisting thriller in Solo – just when you smugly think you have spotted a huge hole in the plot, he turns it breathtakingly around. Solo is a tremendous Bond story, close to the model of the early Fleming novels."
 
The anonymous review in The Independent (UK) is positive. "A cool thriller." http://www.independe...yd-8859479.html
 
The Indian Express review by Pratik Kanjilal appears to be generally positive, tho' the silly sod talks more about the differences between the books and the film and several previous literary continuation authors, and not the book. But does say "Boyd has humanised Bond very successfully," tho' he criticizes the "morally illogical ending in which [Bond] leaves a lover unprotected in order to protect her."  http://www.indianexp...leman/1178639/0
 
Yet another Guardian review, this one by Euan Ferguson is extremely positive. "[Solo is] superior to some of Ian Fleming's originals." He goes on to say it's the best continuation Bond novel and that Boyd's prose is superior to Fleming's. "This is not a pastiche, which is where some of his predecessors erred. This is a novel, by a grown-up, and could only have been achieved by someone who had been enthralled when young and still believed, and also believed, with the thrilling self-confidence accorded to few writers, that he could make it better. Apart from anything else, it's simply a bloody good thriller. A triumph." http://www.theguardi...boyd-james-bond
 
The Northern Echo review by Sarah Warwick is generally positive. She gives it a 7/10. http://www.thenorthe...m_Boyd/?ref=arc
 
The Sunday Times (Singapore) review by Akshita Nanda is mixed-positive and gives it 3.5 out of 5. Though he considers it one of the best Bond novels, he thinks it a somewhat disappointing William Boyd novel. "." http://news.asiaone....-all-over-again
 
The New York Times Book Review by spy novelist Olen Steinhauer is positive. "Nearly a century on, Boyd proves that there are plenty of pages left in 007’s passport. I doubt his creator could have done it better." http://www.nytimes.c...novel.html?_r=0

The O (Oprah) Magazine review by outed CIA agent Valerie Plame appears to be extremely positive. "An exhilarating tightrope of a tale that’s also just retro enough to conjure the original books. . . . Boyd adroitly captures the postcolonial atmosphere of West Africa with a Graham Greene-like eye for detail. . . . Boyd has rendered his Bond perfectly."

The List (Scotland) review by Jamie Brotherston is fairly negative tho' he gives it 3/5. "There are too many areas where Solo fails to justify the continued use of Fleming’s legacy. There is no clear antagonist. There are flashes of Bond, but he is off the boil for most of Solo. Bond's modern approaches are simply boring. Much of the story ambles along." The reviewer concedes that "Boyd’s novel is well written." http://www.list.co.u...liam-boyd-solo/
 
The DNAIndia (Mumbai) review by Boski Gupta is positive. "A stylish, period novel. It is in Africa that Boyd shows his true literary colours. His writing is free from Fleming’s influence yet the character and quintessential style of the senior writer is not lost on the reader. Pick this book, if not for the stylish hero then for the human Bond." http://www.dnaindia....ook-review-solo
 
The USAToday review by Charles Finch is positive. He gives it three out of four stars. "His is the best of the three efforts (Faulks, Deaver and Boyd), a light, slick, sinuous adventure. Though Boyd's iteration of the character owes something to Graham Greene's moral melancholy, Fleming's Bond [...] remains recognizable. So does the excellent pacing: Solo feels so quick that it could already be a movie." http://www.usatoday....s-bond/2939755/
 
The "Germany Radio" review by Rainer Moritz is positive. "William Boyd has written an exciting, solid James Bond sequel, although showing no lofty literary ambitions, but that reanimates a legendary movie hero as novel. Mission accomplished." http://www.dradio.de...kritik/2279018/

The Derbyshire Times (and Bakewell Today) review by Martin Hutchinson is extremely positive. "Boyd has picked up the Bond baton very well; his attention to detail is very like Ian Fleming, who revelled in such fine detail. The action scenes are dealt with with pace and clarity and Boyd has done his homework well. The characterisations of the individuals involved are believable and the villains are as menacing as any in the Bond canon. But the twists in the tale still surprise the reader. A thrilling read throughout." http://www.derbyshir...-boyd-1-6136145

Edited by glidrose, 10 October 2013 - 11:44 PM.


#22 glidrose

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Posted 07 October 2013 - 11:10 PM

The first American reviews are coming out and they seem quite enthusiastic. Check my posts here and here in this thread for all reviews.

The score so far

22 positive
1 mixed-positive
2 mixed
4 negative
 
Edit: Added a positive German review.

Edited by glidrose, 10 October 2013 - 11:29 PM.


#23 Revelator

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Posted 07 October 2013 - 11:34 PM

Yet another Guardian review, this one by Euan Ferguson is extremely positive. "[Solo is] superior to some of Ian Fleming's originals." He goes on to say it's the best continuation Bond novel and that Boyd's prose is superior to Fleming's. "This is not a pastiche, which is where some of his predecessors erred. This is a novel, by a grown-up, and could only have been achieved by someone who had been enthralled when young and still believed, and also believed, with the thrilling self-confidence accorded to few writers, that he could make it better. Apart from anything else, it's simply a bloody good thriller. A triumph." http://www.theguardi...boyd-james-bond

 

Ferguson is a bit of a twit.  While I'm hoping Boyd's effort is indeed as good as he states, the reviewer makes several lazy assumptions.
 

We also get the prose of Mr Boyd, which is frankly superior to that of Mr Fleming.

Okay, but you do indeed to offer any evidence for this frank observation, or are you relying on the snobbery of readers who automatically assume an upmarket literary writer like Boyd must automatically write better than a disreputable thriller writer?
 

    But an exposition on a small oil war in tribal west Africa is arguably more interesting, then and now, than Fleming's own expositions on the histories of voodoo or the Kentucky Derby.

Arguable indeed, since Fleming never wrote an exposition on the Kentucky Derby, and his discussion of voodoo consist of a long quote from one of Patrick Leigh Fermor's books. Ferguson seems more reliant on faulty generalizations than actual criticism. It's Devil May Care syndrome all over again--praise the prestigious pastiche by knocking the original.



#24 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 10:09 AM

Haven´t finished SOLO yet.  But it is neither as good as any Fleming novel, nor is it superior.  Unfortunately.



#25 quantumofsolace

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Posted 10 October 2013 - 09:22 PM

http://www.bakewellt...-boyd-1-6136145



#26 glidrose

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Posted 10 October 2013 - 11:35 PM

http://www.bakewellt...-boyd-1-6136145


Added above, thanks.

#27 tuttle300

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Posted 11 October 2013 - 07:49 AM

Everyone of course will have his or her own opinion. The problem is that if not enough people support the project, we'll either face yet another different author- due to poor sales- or the Fleming estate will choose to give us a dry spell for a decade before giving us another.

 

I actually suggest something more daring.

 

Sig an author on three if not four novels over say, a 6 year period. This way we, the fans, can enjoy one time period for a handful of books and enjoy the ride. Not having to worry with each NEW novel if it will be any good.

 

I AM reading SOLO and 4 chapters in, I like it. I also like the fact Boyd has it set in the sixties and Bond is already middle aged. I mean, why not? A great deal of turning point events happened during that era. Let's travel along that road for several books and stick with one author and see where we stand afterward.

 

I did enjoy the the last two novels but if these guys only sign on for a singular novel- where's the challenge in there for them as writers? You get a contract for someone else's character and a set of staple story points you have to adhere to but no room to maneuver. There's no challenge for the writer and worse- no excitement factor for the fans.



#28 glidrose

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 06:29 PM

More reviews:

 

The New York Times review by Michiko Kakutani is mixed. "Fans of the original Ian Fleming books may have less trouble seeing aspects of their man here, if only dim resemblances. Which isn't to deny that "Solo," by William Boyd (who was tapped by the Ian Fleming estate to write the latest instalment of 007's adventures), is a perfectly well-carpentered and, at times, suspenseful novel. [Bond] also seems oddly deficient in irony, style and dangerous competence - those essential Bond traits. There is little of the original novels' pulpy energy or of the movies' inventive fantasies here - not to mention less humor, and no glamour whatsoever. In this case, [Boyd] does an evocative job of conjuring up the rugged landscape of the fictional Zanzarim, and describes his hero's adventures there with plenty of authority. There is, however, an unnerving disjunction between the essentially escapist nature of the Bond genre and this novel's harrowing descriptions of the Zanzarim civil war and its fallout, including mass murders and villages filled with dead and starving children." http://www.nytimes.c...AsmWuoHhaRHf/WA  http://www.ndtv.com/...nt-007-5-432668

 

The Washington Post Review by Art Taylor is positive. "Solo strikes me as perhaps the boldest departure — still demonstrably a Bond novel but also a Boyd one, with richer and deeper concerns coursing right alongside the Flemingesque flourishes that should keep fans satisfied, as well." http://www.washingto...e110_story.html

 

The Bloomberg Business Week review by Keenan Mayo is generally positive, though he makes several curious mistakes. He claims Fleming's Bond likes to read and cites a P.G. Wodehouse book from FRWL's opening pages, which as we know is not Bond's but Red Grant's. "Readers expecting a shoot-em-up with a whiff of gin and perfume will ultimately be pleased, even though the book is largely devoid of campy glamour—its main backdrops are boiling Africa and a pale, suburban Washington, D.C.—and the book’s first act moves at a crawl, much of it devoted to chronicling Bond’s pre-quadruple-bypass diet."

 

The score so far

24 positive
1 mixed-positive
3 mixed
4 negative


Edited by glidrose, 15 October 2013 - 06:39 PM.


#29 glidrose

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 10:18 PM

The Witness (South Africa) review by Stephen Coan is generally positive. "Boyd seems to take it more seriously than his predecessors and comes up with a decent page-turning plot — plus he sets the bulk of the action in Africa, a continent he knows well. Less convincing is the climax, which seemingly paves the way for a sequel — something new for the franchise. Boyd has him back in 1969, but then studiously avoids examining his character in the social and political context of his time. Something that, in literary mode, he’s surely capable of." ." http://www.witness.c...bal[_id]=108153

 

The Times (South Africa) review by Michael Titlestad is positive. "Boyd is capable of meticulous and economical plotting. There are jolting surprises, but each is carefully foreshadowed. At no point in this propulsive story does the reader feel conned. The clues are always there; the twists and turns well-motivated. The novel concludes on a memorable note of moral ambiguity. In this and other respects, Solo is more worldly than franchised-Bond, in which sophistication is all superficial. Without sacrificing any of the style or action, William Boyd does the legacy of Fleming proud." http://www.timeslive...d-loves-breasts

 

The Hindustan Times review by Soumya Bhattacharya is positive. "Boyd’s Bond is better than the original. It is thrilling stuff, all right. But while Ian Fleming’s Bond was two-dimensional and predictable, nearly always infallible and pretty much indestructible, the Bond of Solo is a well-drawn character: insecure, full of doubts, egotistical, wary and vulnerable. Boyd breathes ambiguity and life into Bond; that is his biggest triumph. Just as the film, Skyfall, showed us a Bond who was more complex and conflicted than we have known him in his previous appearances, Solo offers us a Bond who, while being super human, is never less than human. Besides, sentence for sentence, Solo reads better than the original Bond books. Boyd was an inspired choice for 007’s resurrection." http://blogs.hindust...n-the-original/

 

The Montreal Times review by Stuart Nulman is positive. "Boyd certainly does not disappoint with “Solo”. He manages to echo the elements that made the Fleming novels such compelling reads for six decades’ worth of devoted readers. There’s plenty of sex and violence, exotic locations, delectable descriptions of Bond enjoying the local cuisine and imbibing the finest liquors, as well as the lengthy prose that effectively probes into the tortured, yet dedicated psyche of James Bond, and what makes him such an effective, troubled and humanistic spy who is not afraid to utilize his licence to kill … yet sometimes with some reservations. “Solo” is a welcome addition to the literary Bond canon, and hopefully William Boyd will get further permission from the Ian Fleming estate to occasionally renew James Bond’s license for another dangerous assignment." http://mtltimes.ca/s...o-william-boyd/


Edited by glidrose, 26 October 2013 - 06:36 PM.


#30 glidrose

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 06:47 PM

The Los Angeles Times review by John Horn is mixed. "Solo nevertheless feels like a missed opportunity." http://www.latimes.c...y#axzz2ir1rMqCl

 

The Irish Times review by Declan Burke is positive. "Bond [is] more sensitive and better rounded here than he was on Fleming’s watch. The poetic flourishes that go into the vividly realised setting of Zanzarim apart, Boyd’s prose is crisp and clean, and the story fairly ricochets through its twists and turns as Bond zips from London to east Africa and on to the US. Fans of the original Fleming novels will find much to enjoy."  http://www.irishtime...frica-1.1570402

 

 

Score is now

 

29 positive

1 mixed-positive
4 mixed
4 negative

 

By my count this is the best-reviewed Bond novel in decades. Perhaps since Fleming's own OHMSS.


Edited by glidrose, 26 October 2013 - 06:50 PM.





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